The morning is always a difficult time for first-time parents. Your child either wakes up in the early hours of the morning or doesn’t want to get out of bed at all. You’re usually groggy from being behind on sleep yourself and the day can quickly descend into chaos before it begins.
Creating a morning routine can give order to the early hours. A good routine will ensure that everyone gets fed and changed at the right time and will give you a chance to practice some self-care where possible.
Maintaining a routine, however, can be particularly tricky — especially when your child is still very young. No child wants to conform to your schedule, and they won’t understand just how desperately you need that extra hour in bed. Rather than getting frustrated, try to abide by the routine as much as possible but build some intentional flexibility into your morning.
A good morning routine begins the night before. You can’t expect to have a productive morning if you’re doing last night’s dishes or are running on minimal sleep. First, get your kids to bed in a way that feels positive. Begin preparations for the next morning an hour before you go to bed to prepare your mind for sleep and set yourself up for success.
Tick off the chores that are most likely to impede your progress tomorrow morning. You probably don’t need to dust the mantlepiece, but you should clean, store, and organize your cutlery and kitchenware.
If you find that chores like cleaning the kitchen are excessively difficult, you may want to reconsider how you organize your stuff. You can gain extra storage space by re-organizing your home on the weekends. Start by hanging rails in your kitchen for things like mugs, pots, and pans. This will free up cupboards and make it easier to put dirty dishes away at night.
Once you’ve cleaned the important spaces, lay out a few “must-have” items to save yourself some time tomorrow morning. Set out the cereal or breakfast items and get your child’s cutlery and bowls ready. Lay out a few of their favorite books in a place where they like to hang out and corral their toys so they can find them with ease.
Set a few things aside for yourself, too. Put your journal in an easy-to-reach space and get your coffee machine ready to pour a much-needed brew. Even a few small accommodations can make the first moments that much easier.
As a first-time parent, the first moments after waking up in the morning are usually a little tender. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to lose out on sleep to care for your child and may have woken up a few times in the night to calm them down and ease their crying.
Communicate with your partner during the first moments in the morning. Let them know if you’ve reached your mental limit and ask for help if you just cannot get up and out of bed. A few extra hours in bed can be a godsend as a first-time parent and rejuvenate you later in the day.
You don’t necessarily have to tend to your child first thing. You may even find that taking five minutes to set your home up helps the rest of the morning go smoothly. Get into the routine of brushing your teeth, drinking some water, and making your bed before you go into your child’s room. This can help them get used to the idea of a schedule and will ensure that you aren’t chasing the day.
Self-care seems like a laughable proposition when you’re a first-time parent. Some days, you can hardly find time to eat — so how are you supposed to breathe deeply and appreciate the current moment?
Find time for self-care by following in the footsteps of mothers like Alison Anuzis. Alison recalls that “I was better able to care for my kid if I had my breakfast and coffee,” and that after one feeding/changing cycle, her child got used to being put in a swing while she took care of herself for a little while.
Remember to reach out for help, too. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a babysitter, and doing so may even improve your ability to care for your child. Taking your child to your parent's house for the night can help you catch up on sleep and avoid the dangerous effects of sleep deprivation like lowered cognitive abilities, increased risk of diabetes, and high blood pressure.
When you find some time to yourself, avoid the temptation to mindlessly scroll on your phone. Instead, try to spend the time on quick, powerful acts of self-care like:
Self-care doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re completely tapped out, even a quick nap with your child might be just what you need to rediscover your energy and get a second wind.
Being a first-time parent is a big challenge. Make the process a little easier by creating a routine that works for you and your partner. Start the process the night before and have time to practice self-care when possible. Even a few small changes can improve your child’s sleep patterns and help you bring order to the chaos of life with a young child.
It takes a village!
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